Ensure Your Car Is Roadworthy And Safe To Drive

On the occasion of Road Safety Week, we recently conducted a survey of over 800 motorists which revealed that 7 in 10 car owners delay going to a mechanic when car problems arise – which could potentially be dangerous not only for drivers and passengers but may put fellow road users at risk as well.

Combined with a 31.7% MOT failure rate in the UK, it could mean that millions of cars on UK roads have potentially safety-related critical issues. Putting off fixing issues on your vehicle, whether flagged on an MOT or something that comes up when you drive, could lead to further damage over time.

Here’s a few common issues that should be addressed as soon as possible, to help ensure your car is in tip-top condition:

Abnormal squeaks, squeals and vibrations

If you notice any unusual high pitch squeaks or squeals coming from the car while driving it could mean that something has become loose or become faulty. It could mean there is a problem with your brakes, suspension or steering and it’s definitely something you should get checked by a mechanic as soon as possible.

Dashboard warning lights

Dashboard warning lights

This is the most obvious sign a driver can be given that something is wrong with the car while on the road. There are a huge number of different dashboard lights which can appear on modern-day cars, so refer to the vehicles manual book to ensure you’re familiar with what they mean.

As a general rule of thumb, orange/amber warnings need checking urgently, but the red warning may require you to pull over and stop driving immediately. It’s always worth getting warning lights on your dashboard diagnosed at the earliest opportunity.

Brakes and suspension

If you find that the car “pulls” to one side while braking, that could mean damaged brake linings, fluid contamination, failing wheel cylinder, seized brake caliper or even a failed suspension component. It’s important to get an inspection as soon as possible to identify and fix the problem.

If the brake light on your dashboard turns on, always get a professional to check your brakes and recommend next steps. This helpful post gives more details on signs that your brakes need attention.

Tyre Safety

Tyre safety

The easiest way to check tread depth to ensure it meets the minimum legal standards of 1.6mm is by placing a 20p coin into the main tread grooves of your tyre. If the outer band of the 20p coin is obscured when it is inserted, then your tread is above the legal limit. If the outer band of the coin is visible, then your tyres may be illegal and unsafe and should be checked immediately by a mechanic.

Over or under-inflated tyres can also pose a risk to vehicle safety. Check your tyre pressures as incorrect pressure will cause damage to the tyre and may even render the tyre dangerous.

Be a Road Safety Hero by ensuring you service your car periodically and get your car checked if you notice something is amiss or isn’t working as it should.

Alternatively, a Vehicle Health Check is a great way to help check if your vehicle is in good condition. Head to our website and a vetted mechanic can carry out a health check at your choice of time and date.

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5 Ways You Can Save Fuel In Your Car

While there is no confirmation of an actual fuel shortage by the UK government officials, car owners across the country have started stocking up on fuel, leaving empty petrol stations and making it increasingly difficult to get hold of any fuel.

As car owners grow concerned about the fuel crisis and driver shortage, it’s worth looking at 5 ways you can save on fuel in your car.

Remove the unnecessary weight

When you have a boot full of things you don’t need, your car has to work harder to drive, resulting in it using more fuel. Remember to remove unnecessary items from the boot if you’re not going to need them on your journey. Similarly, roof racks, or anything else that adds weight, can be removed if they are not used regularly.

Check your tyres!

When you drive with tyres not inflated properly, you consume more fuel than you should. Refer to your user manual or look on the inside of your car door or fuel cap to determine the right pressure for your vehicle.

Tyre ratings can also make a difference to overall fuel efficiency in the long run. The first diagram in the tyre rating chart (below) refers to how much rolling resistance the tyre has when the wheels are turning. The best rating is an A grade and G, the worst. If you do not cover great distances, this shouldn’t greatly concern you, but if you do a lot of miles, then the difference in the efficiency of over 7% between A and G can mean a lot!

Tyres rating

Check the news and plan your route

Keep in mind to check the local news or listen for the latest updates on the radio about road closures and traffic jams causing long queues. This will help plan your route better and potentially save fuel.

Combine short trips

Whenever possible, consider making one trip rather than several short trips. A warm engine is much more efficient than a cold one. Lots of cold starts will most likely use more fuel even if the total mileage is the same.

Regular service and maintenance

Carrying out regular maintenance and servicing can help improve the efficiency of your vehicle and bring down fuel consumption. Even something as basic as having your oil changed as recommended for your vehicle can positively impact overall fuel economy.

Car servicing can be booked with ClickMechanic within seconds! To place a booking, head to our website and a trusted mechanic can carry out a service at your choice of time and date.

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Driving in the EU: what has changed post-Brexit?

Recently, the government announced new changes to the quarantine rules for fully vaccinated passengers coming into the UK from Europe and has also just made further changes to the green, red and amber list countries. Since travel conditions differ from country to country, gov.uk has the most current information and essential guidance for travel to Europe.

If you’re planning to drive on your next trip to Europe, it’s worth keeping in mind that some of the rules for driving in Europe have changed since Brexit came into effect earlier this year.

What are the rules for driving in the EU post-Brexit?

  • Are UK driving licenses still valid in the EU?

    driving license

    Most UK drivers can use their normal driving license to drive in EU countries. There are some exceptions where the driver might need an International Driving Permit. An IDP can be bought at Post Offices for £5.50.

    Individuals with only a paper license, not a photocard license, may need an IDP. Drivers whose licenses were issued from Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey, or the Isle of Man may also need an IDP. Up-to-date guidance on driving abroad and IDPs can be found here.

  • What car insurance is required?

    car insurance

    Although it was a requirement post-Brexit, as of 2 August 2021, UK motorists no longer need to obtain an insurance green card before taking their car to EU countries (green cards provide a minimum level of third-party cover in case you get into an accident).

    All UK car insurance policies should provide minimum third-party cover to drive in other EU countries. However, check the details with your car insurer as the level of cover may differ from the cover provided in the UK. For example, many policies will have a limit on the number of days that you’re covered to drive in the EU.

  • Do I need to display the GB sticker?

    GB sticker

    If your number plate includes the GB identifier with the Union flag, you do not need a GB sticker. If your number plate has any of the following, you must display a GB sticker on the rear of your vehicle:

    – a Euro symbol
    – a national flag of England, Scotland or Wales
    – numbers and letters only – no flag or identifier

    If you’re in Spain, Cyprus or Malta, you must display a GB sticker no matter what is on your number plate. In addition to this, ensure you carry your V5C logbook with you if you own the car. You will need a VE103 form (Vehicle-on-Hire-Certificate) if you are taking a leased or rented car outside of the UK.

Our Vehicle Health Check (or Vehicle Safety Check) is a 28-point visual check of your car and can help identify issues on your vehicle prior to a long trip. A vetted mechanic can carry out the work at a location convenient to you and at a date and time of your choice.

 

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What are the most common issues with used cars?

Did you know that according to Auto Trader, used car prices have risen by a record 11% in June 2021? With used car prices expected to rise further, it’s even more important to ensure you’re making the right investment. A pre-purchase inspection by a professional mechanic can help identify issues on a vehicle by checking a range of working aspects of a used car.

In fact, when we looked at our data for pre-purchase inspections, we found that 50% of used cars will score poorly in at least one category during a pre-purchase inspection. Seeing the price increase means it’s all the more reason to get a vehicle thoroughly checked before buying!

Although different models and makes of cars can have unique problems, here are some of the most common problems you should look out for when buying a used car:

Electricals

According to our data, issues with controls and electrical components of the vehicles were a common factor that led to 23% of the vehicle scoring poorly on inspection.

As obvious as this may seem, it’s wise to check that headlights and other indicators are functioning properly. Additionally, it’s a good idea to check other features like the warning lights on the dashboard, the power windows, and the central locking.

Suspension and brakes

Our data found that 12% of used cars scored poorly on suspension and braking systems. If you want to check for potential suspension problems, take it on a drive on different types of road surfaces such as speed bumps and rough surfaces. If you hear rattles or strange knocking sounds, it could mean that the suspension needs attention. However, the best way to ensure there are no issues with the suspension and braking is to have a trusted mechanic do a thorough inspection of the vehicle.

Battery

With cars being left unused for prolonged periods of time during the last 18 months, it is likely that battery health has suffered leading to battery problems. Batteries do not like being left uncharged as the cells inside disintegrate and lose their capacity. The battery may recharge to 12.8v but the actual power is significantly reduced.

Wheels and Tyres

We found that 23% of used cars scored poorly with regards to wheels and tyres during the inspection. Issues such as alloy wheel damage and uneven tyre tread are things to look out for and maybe costly to put right.

GETTING A PROFESSIONAL INSPECTION

ClickMechanic can help with a Pre-Purchase Inspection, with three different levels of inspection to suit your needs, starting from £53.68. During a pre-purchase inspection, the technician will conduct a thorough, unbiased review of the vehicle’s condition which can help give you an understanding of whether you’re getting good value for money. A pre-purchase inspection report will be sent to you which thoroughly outlines the condition of the car from exterior parts to crucial components of the engine and exhaust system so you can be confident you’re making the right purchase.

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7 Ways To Reduce Your Car’s Carbon Footprint

5 ways to reduce your car's carbon footprintWe can’t ignore the fact that all vehicles have an impact on the environment, big or small, petrol or diesel or even electric. Whilst we may not be able to immediately change the way we get around and switch to a greener alternative, there are a number of ways to limit your vehicle’s environmental impact.

We look at 10 things that can help reduce a vehicle’s impact on the environment.

  • Smoother driving

    Driving aggressively with sudden braking and rapid acceleration can decrease fuel economy, shorten replacement intervals for a number of parts and could cost you an extra £600 annually. Smoother driving is not only better for the environment but is also lighter on your pocket.

    Your driving style will have a massive influence on your car’s impact on the environment. It is common knowledge that the faster you drive, the more fuel you burn, however, many are unaware of how much of a difference slowing down can make. In fact, driving at 50 mph rather than 70 mph can improve fuel economy by 25%.

  • Don’t overload the vehicle

    Avoid overloading your vehicle when not needed. The heavier the car, the more fuel it will use.

  • Check your tyre pressure

    Research suggests that motorists in the UK are wasting £246 million a year on fuel by driving on dangerously under-inflated tyres! Under-inflated tyres can increase the vehicle’s rolling resistance and with it, fuel consumption as the engine (or electric motor) will need to work harder to maintain the car’s movement at a consistent speed. Having the correct tyre pressure is key to optimise rolling resistance and ensure less energy is wasted. Details of the required tyre pressures will be in your vehicle’s handbook, but can often be found on a sticker on the driver’s door or inside the fuel cap.

  • Switch off your air-con

    It may seem difficult to break this habit, particularly as we start to heat up for summer, but using the air con will force the engine to work harder and lead to higher fuel consumption.

    Try opening the windows as an alternative when driving at slow speeds; whilst this does cause drag, it will be more efficient than using your air-con. When you’re travelling on the motorway or above 60mph, use the air con and keep the windows closed to streamline the car more effectively.

  • Carpooling

    Carpooling is a great way to save money while also being a greener alternative. In addition to car-sharing services such as BlaBlaCar, carpooling with friends and neighbours can help reduce our carbon footprint. Government guidelines on car sharing during COVID can be found here.

  • Take the car for a service

    Maintaining your vehicle regularly is not only good practice for the safety of you and your family but can also be safer for the environment. Depending on the type of service, technicians will check and replace the fuel filter, spark plugs, air filter and fluids such as the engine oil that will significantly improve the performance of a car, overall fuel economy and lower the vehicle’s emissions.

With increased awareness about emissions and their impact on the environment, many car manufacturers are now advancing in green technology. Hybrid vehicles and electric vehicles are much more efficient and claim to produce lower carbon emissions. If you have an electric vehicle or are thinking about investing in one, it’s also important to consider the source of the power, i.e. if it is renewable and sustainable for the environment.

If you’re looking to book a service, ClickMechanic can help. We provide three levels of car service – interim, full and major service. To place a booking, head to our website and a trusted mechanic can carry out a service at your choice of time and date.

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4 easy steps to defrost your car windscreen

A recent TikTok video went viral showing a person using boiling water in a bag to defrost a windscreen. While this may seem like a quick hack, it can prove to be dangerous and may lead to cracking of the windscreen.

Car in snow

So before you make that essential trip to stock up on some groceries, here are some helpful tips to safely defrost your windscreen:

  1. Before starting your vehicle make sure your wipers are turned off, as they may be stuck to the windscreen
  2. Start up the engine and use the interior heater blower to warm up the windscreen from inside, it will help to slowly but safely defrost the windscreen. If you have them, also turn on the rear window heater and heated mirrors to help defrost the rear window and mirrors.
  3. Clear any snow off your car with a soft brush, then use an ice scraper and de-icer to remove the frost from the windscreen and windows on the outside as the heater warms up the windows from the inside.
  4. Wait until all the frost and mist has cleared before setting off.

And remember:

  • Avoid using any sharp objects such as credit cards to remove the frost which could cause damage to the glass. Always keep a dedicated car ice scraper to de-ice! Do NOT use hot or boiling water to defrost your windscreen or windows, it could crack the glass!
  • If you know you’re going to use the car the next day on a cold night, cover the windscreen with a dedicated windscreen frost protector.
  • Do not leave your car running unattended to keep your car safe from thieves.

If you have any concern that there may be something wrong with your car, then our in-house mechanic team can help. Submit our technical assistance form with a brief description of the problem and your details.

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Do you have these winter essentials in your car?

Banner image

You’ve probably brought out your favourite pair of gloves and your best winter hat but what about your car? With a drop in temperature, you and your car need a bit of extra care during winters too. Here are a few winter essentials you should consider keeping in your car during winter:

  • Ice scraper:
    This one’s a must-have! Even in temperatures above freezing, the surface of your car can develop frost. With an ice scraper, it’s important to clear the windscreen thoroughly before driving to aid visibility. Also, it should help ensure your wipers don’t wear out quickly. Keeping a snow brush handy is a good idea, too.
  • Screenwash:
    It’s worthwhile checking and replacing your screenwash if needed – this acts as an antifreeze agent for the wash wipe system. If there are frosty conditions then de-icing the windows is the first thing to do before setting off. Keeping your windows clean whilst driving is the second step. To do that it is worth ensuring your screenwash is topped up.
  • Power bank charger:
    You don’t want to be left stranded without a working phone! Ideally, you’ll always have a car charger handy, but having a power bank in your car is beneficial in case you can’t use the USB or charging port.
  • Water and non-perishable snacks:
    It’s always a good idea to keep some snacks in your car. Especially during unpredictable weather conditions that might cause a delay.
  • Warm blanket:
    Temperatures this time of year can drop below freezing so it’s smart to store a blanket in the boot, especially if you’re planning long trips. In the event your car breaks down, you have something to keep you warm until help arrives.

If you’re unsure your car is ready for winter conditions then get a Vehicle Health Check or a Service to get your car ready for the weather coming up. Checking the battery, fluids, wipers and tyres is critical during these colder months of the year.

If you want to book a serviceit’s super simple; select your car, fill in your postcode and we’ll provide you with an instant price.

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Top Tips For Travelling By Car This Summer

How to get ready for summer travel

2020 has been a rollercoaster year so far. But the summer isn’t over yet and most of us are still trying to make the most of it. With many international travel restrictions still in effect, summer travel this year will be very different for many of us. Domestic travel by road this summer is looking like a great option to consider.

Before you head off for a road trip, here are some top tips to keep in mind:

Pre-Travel

  • Packing up all your summer road trip essentials
    Besides your favourite summer hat, make sure you pack things that will come in handy. Some essentials include a roadside emergency kit and first aid kit, reusable bottles of water and snacks, sunscreen and most importantly a playlist that includes all your favourite road trip sing-alongs.
  • Is your car ready for a summer road trip? 
    If your vehicle hasn’t been used to any great extent recently, it is recommended to do a thorough checkup of your vehicle in advance and get any issues fixed prior to traveling. Check our 6 tips to check your car before a road trip.
  • COVID-19 precautions you can take
    Once you decide your destination, do your research about local guidelines and policies. Some beaches and tourist locations have rules in place to ensure the safety of both the locals as well as tourists. Along with the mandated face mask, it’s advisable to carry sufficient hand sanitiser, disinfectant wipes and sprays.

During Your Travel

  • Social Distancing
    With COVID-19 still being a significant threat to our health, it’s important to maintain social distancing especially at high touchpoint areas such as petrol stations, garages or even convenience stores.
  • Sanitising
    Use that hand sanitiser you carried if you come in contact with any public space. When you re-enter or exit your vehicle, it is advisable to sanitise or wash your hands for 20 seconds whenever possible.
  • Eating out
    If you are to dining out, make sure you double down on the preventative measures and take all the precautions needed to protect yourself and the people you interact with. The government has provided more guidance for your journey here.

Once You’re back home

  • Clean Up
    Or even better, do a deep clean! Make sure you separate your clothes for laundry and hop into the shower. Disinfect your car and any other surfaces such as luggage, picnic baskets, coolers, etc.

At ClickMechanic, we offer contact-free car servicing & repairs to help keep customers and mechanics safe. If you are concerned that your vehicle may not be ready to drive or if you are not sure what is wrong with your car then place a booking online for our 28-point Vehicle Health Check.

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Is Your Car Ready For A Road Trip?

As the British Summer is well and truly here in its full glory, no doubt many of you will be keen to get away by car or in your Motorhome somewhere to enjoy our celebrated beauty spots.

However, before doing so, especially if your vehicle hasn’t been used to any great extent recently, it is recommended to do a thorough checkup of your vehicle in advance. The last thing you’d want is a delayed or even an abandoned break.

Checks To Carry Out Before Travelling

  • Battery

    If you have had to recently “jump-start” your vehicle after it was not used for a while, make sure that it is now starting up without any problems, especially if being left for a few days. A flat battery can spell disaster on a road trip.

  • Fluids

    Check the levels of your vehicle’s essential fluids thoroughly. Ensure your engine oil is in-between the minimum and maximum marks of the dipstick, top-up if required using the correct oil, but do not overfill. Check that your coolant has recently been refreshed and is in between the minimum and maximum marks on the header tank, topping up if required – but please do both the check and top up when the engine is cold. It is also worthwhile to check your windscreen washer fluid reservoir and top that up too.

  • Tyres

    Make sure your tyre pressures are correct and make any adjustments required, especially if you intend to tow a caravan as the pressure requirements on the rear may be slightly different from those when unladen. Also, check your spare wheel – and of course your caravan’s tyres!

  • Lights

    Do a visual check of all your lights AND those of your caravan and replace any failed bulbs or have any electrical issues resolved in towing electrical connections well in advance.

  • Brakes

    Take a moment to visually inspect your brake pads, through the wheels, where possible. Towing adds extra pressure and reliance on good brakes. You’d be surprised at the number of call-outs for brakes that are received from holiday destinations!

  • Clutch

    Does your clutch pedal feel it has good even pressure and have you noticed any untoward noises, snatching as you change gear or even difficulty getting into gear? Now would be a good time to have that looked at.

Aside from that, don’t forget to check your cigarette lighter socket is working properly, so you can charge mobile devices, and ensure you carry your car insurance and breakdown assistance details with you.

1. Check the traffic

Before you go, check online to see if there is traffic on your desired route. It will save you time by creating a route around the traffic. Check out Waze which is the most up-to-date app in terms of monitoring live traffic data.

2. Plan a route

Plan a route and look it over so you minimize confusion and stress on the road. This way you don’t rely too heavily on a navigation system and remember don’t try to use your phone while driving!

If you aren’t in a rush, take the scenic route. It’s much more pleasant and you can find some hidden treasures! Don’t forget to check Google Maps and reviews to help find restaurants around you.

3. Get your car checked out

If you are taking a long trip and haven’t serviced your car in a while, make sure you do. If there is a minor problem with your car, like a noise, get it checked out before you go. It might save you a headache later on.

Check that your tires are fully inflated, fluids are filled, and gas tank is full. Or have one of our ClickMechanics come and do a service of your car.

4. Buckle your seat belts

On long trips, it can be tempting to unbuckle your seatbelt to relax but it is better to be safe than sorry. Even if you are a cautious driver, don’t forget that others may not be.

5. Don’t drive for long periods

If you are driving alone, take the time to stretch your legs and get out of the car.

If you are driving with a partner, switch it up so that your reaction time and attention are kept sharp.

6. Take Pictures

While you are on your trip it can be easy to forget to take pictures because you’re having fun! But taking pictures can save these memories and share them with friends and family.

A note from our Mechanic in Residence

Drive carefully with due consideration to other road users, know the speed limits and check the access before heading down a lane and off the main highway. You may not be in a rush, but do check your mirrors for following traffic and pull over when safe to do so to let the “locals” past you. We do appreciate it, especially down here in Devon! Happy Touring!

– Nigel, ClickMechanic’s Mechanic in Residence and Devon resident!

If you are unsure whether your vehicle is safe and ready to drive for a long road trip, then book a FREE phone consultation with one of our experienced in-house mechanics or place a booking online for our 28-point Vehicle Health Check.

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How To Keep Your Car Safe And Ready To Drive

As we’re sure you’ll be aware, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 the government has asked everyone to stay home for all but essential travel. That means using your car only for the most essential journeys like shopping for basic necessities, attending to medical needs or, if you cannot work from home, travelling to and from work.

As a consequence of this, your car may move a lot less than usual, or potentially not move at all. Like humans, cars do not cope well with being left alone. They seize up, go flat and will moan and groan when they do have to move again.

So we decided to pull together 5 essential tips to help keep your car in good shape and ready for when you need it.

5 Tips To Keep Your Vehicle Safe And Ready

Battery & Electrics

If your vehicle isn’t started periodically then the battery is likely to go flat. Despite being switched off, certain circuits like the alarm and immobiliser do take a trickle of power, and can drain the battery over time.

So, to keep your battery in good shape, once a week at least, start the engine and let it run up to temperature to give the battery a boost.

Engine

To prolong the life of your engine and reduce the chance of seizure start the engine on a weekly basis. By starting the engine, you will give the oil a chance to warm up and run around the internal components and lubricate them.

It also gives the drive belts a chance to move their position against pulleys, tensioners and guides. If you don’t do this, the belts can become weakened at the constant pressure points.

The engine coolant will also get to circulate and as it also includes a rust inhibitor it will dilute any condensation and refresh the system. Once started, all the other items such as your alternator and water pump will self lubricate their bearings, once again prolonging their life and reducing the chance of seizure.

Wheels & Tyres

If a vehicle is left standing for a period of time, the sidewalls of the tyre in that one position will take all the strain. Moving the car forwards or backwards by just half a wheel turn will shift the pressure point.

This is also a good time to check your tyre pressures as under-inflation will cause further damage to the sidewall and may even render the tyre dangerous.

Suspension

Just like our joints, your car’s suspension needs to be kept supple. We are not suggesting going out for a drive but a little bit of movement can make all the difference! Even just sitting in the car will move a lot of the components enough to prevent most issues. You would be surprised by the amount of springs that break when a car is left stationary for a long period!

Brakes

When you give your car its weekly warm up, dab the brakes a few times and while your feet are down there, give the clutch pedal a bit of exercise as well if it’s a manual!

If you don’t drive your vehicle, inevitably your brake discs will gain a coating of rust. This is quite normal and in most cases once the car is moving and the brakes applied a few times, this will clean off. It may be a bit noisy to start with, but it’s ok!

And finally, don’t leave the parking brake on unless really necessary!

If you leave your parking brake on for a long period, it is highly likely it will “stick on”. So although you released the handle, the brakes are still applied. You will feel the car try and move but it may drag the wheel(s) or rise up and not budge! To prevent this, leave the car in gear and release the handbrake if it is a manual, or simply leave it in P on an automatic.

If you do forget and it sticks on, do not under any circumstances simply try and keep driving it to release it as you can damage the brakes. Book a mechanic to come out and do it safely.

If you are concerned that your vehicle may have become unsafe, unreliable or something has happened to it, book a FREE phone consultation with one of our experienced in-house mechanics or you can use our new contact-free service to place a booking.